How Medicines Can Make You Sick

Americans are taking more prescription and non-prescription drugs than ever before.  And that's creating a big problem, according to researchers at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

A study of seniors found that one in 25 of them are combining drugs that shouldn't be mixed.    Most of  the time, patients were mixing an over the counter drug with a prescription drug, without informing their doctors. 

"We find that they commonly combine these prescription medications with over the counter medications and dietary supplements, which can increase their vulnerability to medication side effects and drug-drug interactions," says Dr. Stacy Lindaw, the study author.

The most common risk involves bleeding, often by combining aspirin with a prescription drug or with the herb ginkgo.  Another risk is  muscle damage by using niacin with prescriptions for Atorvastatin or Simvastatin.

Each year more than 175,000 senior citizens are rushed to emergency rooms because of adverse drug events.   The best advise, check with you doctor before taking any medication that the doctor doesn't know about.  The study is in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association.


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